Patellar Tendon Rupture or Patellar Tendon Tear

Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

The patellar tendon joins the kneecap to the shin bone. A tear of the patellar tendon is generally as a result of forceful pressure on the tendon such as that generated with jumping.

Patellar Tendon Rupture or Patellar Tendon Tear

About Patellar Tendon Rupture or Patellar Tendon Tear

The patellar tendon/ligament joins the kneecap and the front portion of the shin bone. The patellar tendon is connected to the tibial tubercle at the anterior region of tibia below the knee and is joined to the lower region of the patella. Anterior to this the quadriceps tendon and quadriceps muscles are attached. This facilitates knee flexion and extension and actions such as running, ability to walk etc.

Individuals who have had patellar tendon injuries previously such as Jumper's Knee, or patellar degeneration because of age are more prone to rupture of the tendon. The tendon tends to lose its strength due to these conditions and when there is severe contraction of the quadriceps muscle such as when landing after jumping it results in tear of the patellar tendon, especially at the lowermost part of patella. Another reason which makes an individual more prone to patellar tendon rupture is corticosteroid injection given for inflammation in case of other medical condition of the patella such as Jumper's Knee.

Causes of Patellar Tendon Rupture or Patellar Tendon Tear

  • Forceful blow to the knee.
  • Degeneration of the tendon with age.
  • Other medical conditions of the patella such as Jumper's Knee and corticosteroid injections to the knee to control inflammation predispose the tendon to rupture.

Symptoms of Patellar Tendon Rupture or Patellar Tendon Tear

Symptoms of Patellar Tendon Rupture or Patellar Tendon Tear

  • Rupture of the patellar tendon is accompanied by severe pain.
  • A pop is heard when there is a rupture.
  • Knee swelling.
  • Weight bearing difficulty.
  • Inability to extend the knee or keep it in an extended position.

Treatment for Patellar Tendon Rupture or Patellar Tendon Tear

  • RICE technique should be applied.
  • NSAIDs can be used for reduction of pain and swelling.
  • Immediate need for medical attention.
  • In cases where the patellar tendon is ruptured totally, surgical intervention may be needed to repair the injury. Repairing is done by suturing the tear.
  • Patient should be enrolled in a rehab program postsurgery.
  • Weightbearing needs to be avoided on the injured knee postsurgery.
  • A knee brace should be worn postsurgery to stop the knee from flexing.
  • Once there is complete healing, the affected individual should start exercises religiously to restore complete range of motion and to strengthen the quadriceps muscles.
  • Complete recovery from this sort of injury is very gradual and usually takes up to a year.

Open Patella and Enclosed Knee Brace

Prognosis and Recovery Time following Patellar Tendon Rupture or Patellar Tendon Tear

Prognosis depends on the time taken for complete healing of patellar tendon rupture. Patellar tendon is the most used tendon and involved in all knee joint movements. The healing depends on the blood supply of the tendon. The blood supply is compromised when tear is large and wide. Inadequate blood flows to the tendon delay the time taken for complete healing and prolongs the recovery time. The treatment of tear of patellar tendon includes immobilization of knee joint for 4 to 6 weeks. The healing of patellar tear may take 4 to 8 weeks and following healing of the patellar tendon tear patient needs 4 to 8 weeks of physical therapy. In all recovery period for near normal activities is 8 to 12 weeks. Prognosis is satisfactory though patient may suffer with mild to moderate pain for several weeks after complete healing because of patellar tendon scar tissue interfering with muscle activities.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 13, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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